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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    Nance becomes the latest player to go down in an injury-filled season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. suffered a right knee injury in the first quarter of Friday night's game against the Indiana Pacers and will not return. 

    Nance, who banged into Pacers forward Thaddeus Young at the 6:51 mark of the first quarter, gingerly walked to the free-throw line. He took both freebies before subbing out of the game and limping slowly back to the locker room with trainer Steve Spiro. 

    Nance becomes the latest player to go down in an injury-filled season.

    On Monday, Cavs head coach Larry Drew had to use at least one assistant so the team could have a full 5-on-5 practice.

    The Cavs have been playing with just nine guys in recent nights and are about to head on the road for their longest trip of the season. 

    Ante Zizic, who returned from a five-game absence, will likely pick up a bulk of the minutes in Nance's absence. 


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    The Cavaliers have declined to comment as the league conducts its review.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It appears the Cavaliers-Warriors rivalry isn't dead after all.

    At the request of the Warriors, the NBA has started a formal review of the Cleveland's signing and then swift release of swingman Patrick McCaw for possible salary cap circumvention, a source confirmed to cleveland.com Tuesday night. 

    The Cavaliers have declined to comment as the league conducts its review. 

    Marc Stein of the New York Times first reported the Warriors' complaint and the league's investigation. 

    The Cavs signed McCaw, a restricted free agent with the Golden State Warriors, to a two-year, $6 million offer sheet on Dec. 28. The Warriors declined to match, as it would've cost them an additional $11 million in luxury taxes to retain McCaw. 

    After playing just three games, the Cavs waived him on Sunday night, one day before his contract became guaranteed. The Cavs, who needed an extra ball-handler because of an ankle injury to Matthew Dellavedova and the rising workload of rookie Collin Sexton, let go of McCaw to make room on the roster for point guard Cameron Payne.

    "I don't think it was as much what didn't happen (with McCaw), it was really mostly what we needed," Cavs head coach Larry Drew said prior to Tuesday's 123-115 loss against Indiana. "With Delly going down, we really didn't have a backup point. I had to throw Alec (Burks) in there as backup point, and that wasn't really fair to him. So we made the decision.

    "We really need another ball-handler in the worst way. That was our reason for bringing in Cameron. We needed someone that was a true point guard at that position, somebody that could come in and play some backup minutes until Delly came back."

    Under the terms of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NBA forbids teams and players to make any "unauthorized agreements" that involve making any deals "express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind" that are "concerning any future Renegotiation, Extension, or other amendment of an existing Player Contract."

    The Cavaliers could face punishments if the NBA finds any wrongdoing. Fines could range anywhere between $3 to $6 million as well as the loss of future first-round draft picks. Suspensions could also be levied. 

    In these cases, officials from the Cavs and Warriors, as well as McCaw's representatives, are usually interviewed before the league office determines if there's any necessary punishment. 

    Signing a player to a non-guaranteed offer sheet is not against league rules. Neither is waiving him shortly after if he's not the right fit. Teams often try to structure an offer sheet that makes the most sense for them financially while also making it problematic for the other team, in this case Golden State, to match. 

    But, according to a source, because McCaw lasted only a week in Cleveland before the Cavaliers released him, some around the league have speculated that the move was designed more to help McCaw become an unrestricted free agent. 

    If McCaw clears waivers Wednesday at 5 p.m., he will become an unrestricted free agent. 

    At the time of the McCaw signing, sources told cleveland.com that the Cavs opted to take a risk-free swing, giving them a chance to evaluate the 23-year-old multi-dimensional wing and see if he could turn heads and become another piece of this rebuild. The Cavs were already without swingmen Rodney Hood and David Nwaba and needed someone immediately to fill those minutes.

    Team executives believed McCaw had more experience, talent and upside than any player in the G League -- where they looked first -- or another free agent that could've been signed to a 10-day deal. They also needed healthy bodies, going into a game against the Miami Heat with just nine players, including a pair on two-way contracts, because of injuries that seemingly won't end during this trying season. 

    The Cavs saw a unique opportunity to add McCaw -- a known NBA-caliber player -- and took their shot.

    The signing didn't work out. But everything the Cavs did in this case seems to be logical and well within the rules. As an aside, new arrival Payne already surpassed McCaw's three-game scoring output in his 22-minute debut with Cleveland Tuesday. 

    So unless McCaw or his agent, Bill Duffy, tells the NBA that a prior agreement existed to get him out from under Golden State's control, it's hard to envision any penalty coming.

    The league will make the final call on that. 


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    With their 123-115 loss against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, the Cavs picked up their 33rd loss of the season, surpassing last year's total.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers reached a mark untouched in any of the previous four seasons. It only took until the halfway point of this new campaign to get there. 

    With their 123-115 loss against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, the Cavs picked up their 33rd loss of the season, surpassing last year's total.  

    Yes, Tuesday night was the latest reminder that the Cavaliers are a shell of what they once were -- in the infancy stages of a lengthy, tenuous and frustrating rebuild.

    Thanks to a sloppy and lethargic first half, the Cavs dug a deep hole, trailing by as many as 26 points against the surging Pacers, who have won 14 of their last 17. Cleveland had to fight its way back all night, and did so admirably, getting as close as five in the second half before running out of gas against another superior team. 

    "Think we responded well," Jordan Clarkson said following the loss. "We was down 20 and it was getting ugly. Guys came out here and kept competing. There's no moral victories, but good to see guys keep competing. Nobody had their head down. Just stayed ready."

    One day earlier, Cavs head coach Larry Drew woke up giddy thinking about practice. He was eager to work on defensive coverages and implement new strategies in a quest to snap the season-long losing skid. But when he arrived at Cleveland Clinic Courts, there were only nine healthy players, so he was forced to use an assistant coach to let the team go five on five. 

    That's happened a few times. It helps summarize the challenge of this season.  

    Things got even more difficult as Larry Nance Jr. limped to the locker room with a right knee injury early in the first quarter and never returned. 

    It would have been easy to raise the white flag. But the undermanned Cavs nearly rallied all the way back in the second half, seeking their second win in the last 13 games against playoff-bound Indiana. 

    Clarkson led a balanced scoring effort. He poured in 26 points off the bench. Five other players hit double figures, including Alec Burks who finished with 19. 

    The Cavs' dormant offense, which had been held under 100 points in six of the previous seven games, erupted for 115 on 53.9 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3-point range. 

    Cleveland's hard-fought effort was undone by 16 turnovers and the league's worst defense, allowing Indiana to shoot 53.8 percent from the field while canning 10 triples. 

    "Can we build off it? Absolutely," Drew said. "When you've had the struggles we've had and that Indiana team is a very good basketball team. We can look at this game and we can take some things from it and we can build from it. But we have to make sure moving forward we don't put ourselves in those positions. We've shown we can be better than our record indicates, but that only takes us being more consistent in all four quarters every game we play."

    Welcome to Cleveland

    It only took point guard Cameron Payne 22 minutes to double Patrick McCaw's three-game scoring output before the latter was waived on Sunday night. 

    Payne provided a nice lift off the bench, scoring 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

    The Cavs inked him because they needed an extra ball-handler to take some of the pressure off rookie Collin Sexton. In Payne's first game, he was able to do that while also being part of the group that ignited the surge in the third quarter. 

    Nance injury

    Right when it appeared the Cavs were ready to turn the corner on those nagging injuries, Nance limped to the locker room after banging into Indiana's Thaddeus Young. Nance took both free throws and then exited, replaced by two-way player Jalen Jones. 

    Matthew Dellavedova returned from a two-game absence and Ante Zizic came back after missing four in a row. But Nance is a enormous loss, especially with Kevin Love still weeks away following foot surgery, and the season's longest road trip looming. 

    Small victory

    The Cavs won the third quarter on Tuesday night. No, I'm not kidding. They really did. Behind 10 third-quarter points from Clarkson and some hot shooting from 3-point range, Cleveland sizzled for 36 points in the third, outscoring Indiana by seven. 

    It helped the Cavs trim a one-time 26-point lead to a manageable 13 points heading into the final quarter. 

    Up next

    The Cavs open a six-game trip in New Orleans on Wednesday night. 


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    Nance exited Tuesday's 123-115 loss against the Indiana Pacers at the 6:51 mark of the first quarter and did not return.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- In a season filled with plenty of bad news, the Cleveland Cavaliers might've actually received a bit of injury fortune. Larry Nance Jr. will travel with the team on their six-game road trip, as his right knee injury isn't believed to be serious.

    Of course, the Cavs won't know for sure until they re-evaluate him, which is supposed to happen Wednesday in New Orleans. 

    Nance exited Tuesday's 123-115 loss against the Indiana Pacers at the 6:51 mark of the first quarter and did not return. 

    "I just know when he was walking off the floor he was moving very, very gingerly," head coach Larry Drew said.

    Driving to the basket, Nance bumped into Indiana's Thaddeus Young and tried walking it off. Nance shot both of his free throws before limping slowly to the sideline and eventually walking back to the locker room with trainer Steve Spiro. 

    The Cavs were set to leave for New Orleans, the first stop on a near-two-week trip, around 10:45 p.m. with Nance on that flight. 

    Nance started alongside Tristan Thompson Tuesday, as Drew has been using his two-big lineup for matchup purposes. 

    Having Nance back in time for Wednesday's game against New Orleans would be helpful, especially with the Pelicans imposing tandem of Anthony Davis and Julius Randle. In Saturday's matchup against New Orleans, Nance scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out two assists. 

    On the season, Nance is averaging 9.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. 

    With him out for the final three quarters against Indiana, Ante Zizic logged 13 minutes. Zizic returned from a four-game absence because of a sore knee. 


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    Sexton went to Alabama. Blossomgame to Clemson. The two wagered on the College Football National Championship Game. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton tossed on his gray Nike sweatsuit and was ready to address the media following the team's 123-115 loss. 

    Only he forgot something, an important addition to his wardrobe.

    It was his new purple and orange Clemson windbreaker. Sexton will be wearing that for about a week after losing a bet with teammate Jaron Blossomgame. 

    Sexton went to Alabama. Blossomgame to Clemson. The two wagered on the College Football National Championship Game. The stakes, beyond the windbreaker of the opposing school for the loser, included 50 anytime pushups. Sexton churned out five of those while walking into the arena next to Blossomgame.

    Much to Sexton's surprise -- he thought Alabama would win by three touchdowns and had already crowned them champions when the official playoff rankings came out -- Clemson pounded Bama, 44-16, claiming its second title in the last four years. 

    "I'm with my team regardless," Sexton said late Tuesday night. "We had a tough one, but we're coming back strong next year."

    When informed he looked good in the Clemson colors, Sexton could only shake his head before offering a few words. 

    "Trash," he said. "Roll Tide."  

    Blossomgame, who was beaming and hovering around Sexton's locker, said he tried to warn Sexton not to take the bet. He was less confident than Sexton going into the game, but felt Clemson had a chance, especially with freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and an abundance of talent that Dabo Swinney recruited lately. Sexton wouldn't listen.

    Now the youngster will be spending a bulk of the team's six-game road trip walking into opposing arenas wearing the same thing -- that purple Clemson windbreaker.

    Hey, it could've been worse. It could've been a bright orange jersey. That's what Blossomgame wanted originally, only he didn't have one with him in Cleveland. 

    The chatter has already started for next year, as both expect a fifth straight matchup. 

    "It's those two and everyone else," Blossomgame said. "The whole offense will be back."


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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-33) will open a six-game roadtrip against the New Orleans Pelicans (19-22) on Wednesday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-33) will open a six-game roadtrip against the New Orleans Pelicans (19-22) on Wednesday night. 

    When: 8 p.m.

    Where: Smoothie King Center

    TV: FoxSports Ohio 

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs lost to the Pelicans 133-98 on Saturday night. 

    Cavs minute: During Tuesday's loss against the Pacers, the Cavs had at least six players score in double figures for the 15th time this season. ... The Cavs shot a season-high 53.9 percent from the field Tuesday. ... Since coming back from a foot injury, Tristan Thompson has recorded two double-doubles in four games. ... Alec Burks has reached double figures 12 times in 21 games with the Cavaliers. ... Jordan Clarkson has scored at least 20 points in seven of his last 13 games. ... Cedi Osman played in his 100th career game on Tuesday night. 

    Pelicans minute: In New Orleans' first meeting of the season against the Cavs this past Saturday, the Pelicans scored 130 points for the fifth time this season, setting the mark for the most such games in a season in franchise history. The 35-point win marked the fifth largest victory in franchise history, including the second largest road victory. ... Jrue Holiday is one of three players in the NBA averaging at least 20.5 points and 8.0 assists per game. ... Anthony Davis, who scored 20 points to go with 10 rebounds in the previous meeting against Cleveland, ranks fourth in the NBA with 28 double-doubles. ... Julius Randle is averaging 23.4 points and 9.8 rebounds since being inserted into starting lineup on Dec. 3. ... New Orleans is currently riding an eight-game home winning streak against Cleveland dating back to 2011. ... The Pelicans are just 2-11 when getting outrebounded by their opponent. New Orleans was plus-10 in that category against Cleveland Saturday. 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Cedi Osman

    F Larry Nance Jr.

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Alec Burks

    G Collin Sexton

    Pelicans

    F E'Twaun Moore

    F Julius Randle

    C Anthony Davis

    G Elfrid Payton

    G Jrue Holiday


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    A near disaster at the Sugar Bowl between Bevo and Uga, the mascots for Texas and Georgia respectively, called into question the necessity of having live mascots at all.

    near disaster at the Sugar Bowl between Bevo and Uga, the live mascots for Texas and Georgia respectively, called into question the necessity of having living mascots at all. Some want the practice to end because it puts unnecessary stress on animals in a loud, chaotic environment. Others think live mascots are cute, treated well and worshiped by millions of fans. What do you think? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    As cute as live mascots are, the stress they go through dealing with thousands of screaming fans at athletic events is something they should not have to endure. The incident between Bevo and Uga was a warning. Any further escalation and animals are getting hurt. Here is PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange with more:

    It's indefensible to subject animals to the stress of being packed up, carted from state to state, and paraded in front of a stadium full of screaming fans. It's no surprise that a skittish steer would react to a perceived threat by charging, and PETA is calling on the University of Texas and the University of Georgia to learn from this dangerous incident, retire their live-animal mascots, and stick to the talented costumed mascots who can lead cheers, react to the crowd, and pump up the team.

    Animal rights activists need to save their outrage for issues that are actually problems. Live mascots are harmless traditions and these beloved animals get the care they need to be happy and healthy. 

    There is no need to end the practice when lovable animals bring joy to millions of fans. Live mascots are great ambassadors for their respective schools and they should be allowed to be honored at games.

    Top 25 live animal mascots in college football

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    Cleveland cooled off in the second half, couldn't sustain the high level of play for all four quarters, but still finished with 14 triples -- the second-most in a game all season.

    NEW ORLEANS -- A new year means a chance to make changes -- an opportunity for resolutions. Apparently, the Cleveland Cavaliers made one as well.

    Shoot more 3s. 

    In Wednesday's loss -- the 11th in a row -- against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Cavs opened the game 8-of-8 from long range before Cameron Payne missed one early in the second quarter. Cleveland cooled off in the second half, couldn't sustain the high level of play for all four quarters, but still finished with 14 triples -- the second-most in a game all season. 

    The road trip opener was a continuation of something that started on Jan. 2 against the zone-happy Miami Heat, a night the Heat essentially dared the Cavs to beat them from deep.

    Over the last five games, the Cavs rank sixth in made triples, averaging 12.6 per game. They are a respectable 12th in 3-point frequency, according to the stat-driven website Cleaning the Glass. During that same stretch, the Cavs are hitting an impressive 43.8 percent, which is good for the second-best mark in the league. 

    So what sparked the change? Well, it started with a shift in mindset. 

    "In all of our practices and shootarounds we preach layups and 3-pointers," Jordan Clarkson told cleveland.com. "Try not to take too many mid-range jumpshots. That's just something we have been preaching these last couple of weeks."

    Clarkson has played his part. On the season, about 24 percent of Clarkson's shot attempts have come from that inefficient mid-range area. But since the start of 2019, that number has dropped to 14.8 percent. 

    It's no surprise that Clarkson, no longer settling for the path of least resistance, is averaging 18.6 points on 51.4 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc in the last five games. He has three 20-point games -- the longest such streak for him this season. 

    "LD, and us, we noticed that so it was like, 'We have to change something,'" Clarkson said of the change in approach. "Start setting the culture. This is what we are doing in terms of young guys and stuff like that so we have to figure out what our identity is so these guys can learn.

    "That's my big thing right now. I'm either taking the 3 or trying to get all the way to the rim and make a play for my teammate when I draw guys." 

    Clarkson has taken 48.6 percent of his shots in the paint. He has taken 36.4 percent of his shots from long range. Layups and 3's indeed. 

    It hasn't just been Clarkson. Cedi Osman isn't running himself off the 3-point line anymore. Osman, just a 31 percent bomber, went 2-of-5 from 3-point range against the Pelicans and repeatedly stepped into those shots with confidence. More than half of his attempts were from deep.

    Matthew Dellavedova, who has turned into a solid catch-and-shoot threat, has brought that new dimension to the second unit.

    Payne, who has impressed in his first two games, can hit the long ball from time to time. He made a trio of 3's on Wednesday. 

    Perhaps more important than the actual percentage is a team-wide willingness to take those looks. Well, with a caveat. 

    "We want to make it more a part of the offense, but we want good ones," Drew told cleveland.com "I think as of late, particularly when we move the ball, have good looks and guys are getting feet set, we've had some chances. Everything is predicated for us on ball movement. We don't play a lot of inside-out with no Kevin Love. We do get a lot of dribble penetration and try to put an emphasis on dribble penetration. When the defenses collapse we look to kick out. Think we have done a better job with that as of late.

    "We have always encouraged the 3-ball, but it's how we get it."

    Only time will tell whether this new way is sustainable, especially given the personnel, or if it's just another one of those resolutions that's eventually ignored.


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  • 01/10/19--05:03: Is 'The Drake Curse' real?
  • Many are saying the Drake Curse is a real thing and a death sentence for teams and athletes.

    Before the national championship, superstar rapper Drake was seen rocking an Alabama sweatshirt. The game did not go well. The Crimson Tide was blown out by Clemson, making Alabama the latest in a long line of teams to fall after getting a nod from Drizzy. Many are saying the Drake Curse is a real thing and a death sentence for teams and athletes. Others don't think any negativity should be attached to Drake's name. What do you think?

    PERSPECTIVES

    Much like a plague, a Drake endorsement haunts teams and athletes with a lethal dose of L's. Every squad he has repped (AlabamaConor McGregor, the Toronto RaptorsKentucky and Serena Williams) have taken a beating in their respective sports after his ringing endorsement. Dizzy may be king of the charts, but he's a curse in sports.

    The 'Drake curse' continues after Alabama's loss to Clemson

    Put some respeck on Drake's name. This is one of the best rappers of this generation. He should not be associated with anything nearly as negative as a curse. It's not his fault the teams or athletes he supports can't handle their businesses on the court. He is no Kardashian. There is no such thing as the Drake Curse.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    Many people think it's unfair that the NFL requires athletes to be three years removed from high school before they're eligible to play.

    NFL dreams are going to come true in the NFL Draft, but studs like Clemson freshman Trevor Lawrence have to wait. Many people think it's unfair that the NFL requires athletes to be three years removed from high school before they're eligible to play. We let people over the age of 18 join the military and work anywhere else without restrictions. But pundits argue we are still talking about young adults who are not prepared for the physical and mental toll of the NFL. They should stay in college instead. What do you think?

    PERSPECTIVES

    High school graduates can make the choice to sacrifice their lives for their country, and yet college freshman can't decide to make money doing something they love? There's something wrong with that.

    Some freshman football players are ready to make the jump to the NFL. Even if they aren't starting, they can hone their craft in a professional setting without the distraction of schoolwork they have no interest in. Forcing players to play three years in college only hurts NCAA schools that have to deal with student-athletes who have zero interest in the student part of student-athlete and have proven themselves ready for the big stage.

    Even if they aren't ready, freshman players who feel they're ready should be able to make that mistake as an adult. They should be able to go straight to the NFL if they want.

    Which college football freshmen could be one-and-done if the NFL allowed it?

    Freshman footballers who think they can hang in the NFL will get beaten down by both the real world and grown men at the same time.

    No matter how big or strong freshmen are, they are nowhere near ready to take on the physical toll of an NFL schedule. Not only do they have to condition and work out constantly, but opponents are also looking to hurt them with more force than they have ever encountered.

    Mentally, NFL athletes have to memorize huge playbooks, analyze tape and deal with failure on a professional level where there are no excuses. There's a reason the NFL only allows players three years removed from high school to play in the league. Kids that young just aren't ready.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    Nance was injured in the first quarter of Tuesday's loss against the Indiana Pacers and an MRI conducted Thursday confirmed the severity of the knee injury.

    HOUSTON -- Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. is expected to miss approximately 2-4 weeks with a sprained right MCL. 

    Nance was injured in the first quarter of Tuesday's loss against the Indiana Pacers and an MRI conducted Thursday confirmed the severity of the knee injury. 

    Nance made the trip to New Orleans with the team -- the start of a six-game roadie that concludes on Jan. 19 -- but did not play in Wednesday's matchup.

    Without crutches, Nance hobbled out of the visitor's locker room late Wednesday night. He told cleveland.com that it was a worrisome non-contact injury to the same knee that had been surgically repaired while in college. While admitting he was still awaiting further evaluation, Nance said it wasn't the same exact injury (torn right ACL) that once ended his junior season at Wyoming. 

    Nance, who signed a four-year, $45 million contract extension in October, is averaging 8.8 points and 7.5 rebounds. He's third on the team in assists, behind backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova and Kevin Love. 

    With him sidelined, head coach Larry Drew will once again have to determine how to best navigate the loss of one of his bigs.

    Tristan Thompson and Ante Zizic recently returned to Cleveland's lineup. Love is still likely weeks away from a comeback as he continues to ramp up his basketball activities following surgery on his foot. Channing Frye started for Nance Wednesday. 


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    James suffered the injury Christmas Day in the Lakers' win over the Golden State Warriors. He has been sidelined for eight games.

    HOUSTON -- LeBron James will miss at least the next three games with a strained left groin, the Los Angeles Lakers announced on Thursday. That means James, who spent the previous four seasons in Cleveland, won't suit up against his old team. 

    The Cavaliers make their lone visit to play the Lakers on Sunday night -- the third stop on this current six-game road trip. It's also the final matchup between Cleveland and Los Angeles this season, with the Lakers winning James' official return on Nov. 21. 

    James suffered the groin injury Christmas Day in the Lakers' win over the Golden State Warriors. He has been sidelined for eight consecutive games. 

    Evaluated by L.A.'s team medical staff Thursday, they determined "the healing of James' groin injury is progressing." He has also been cleared to "increase on-court functional basketball movements," the Lakers said in a statement.

    While Los Angeles is fighting for playoff positioning in the deep and talented Western Conference, his old squad has crumbled without him once again. Cleveland, which owns the league's worst record, is riding an 11-game losing streak that could get to 12 by the time Sunday rolls around. 


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    Murray was a first-round MLB draft pick.

    Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray is expected to enter the NFL Draft to try his hand at professional football. After being awarded the top honor in college football, this seems like a no-brainer. However, Murray was already a first-round MLB draft pick. In the interest of his long-term health and financial success, many feel he should choose baseball over football as his professional calling. What do you think? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    Murray proved he could hang with the big boys in college football, winning the Heisman Trophy and quarterbacking the most productive offense in the sport. While he might be smaller than your average quarterback, he showed he can get gaudy numbers that could translate at the pro-level. Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and others have show that there is a future for Murray in pro football.

    Murray is almost assured to be picked in the first round, where his rookie contract will overshadow every rookie contract in baseball -- a sport where even the best players have to cut their teeth in the minors for a few years. Once he proves he can play at the pro-level, Murray could be one of the highest-paid players in the league. The smart money would be to be pursue pro football.

    If Murray wants to be paid fully-guaranteed money, while saving his brain from being scrambled, baseball is the only choice. Unless you are one of the top quarterbacks in the league, you are not making anywhere near what you could in baseball. The median salary in MLB is $1.5 million, while the NFL has a median salary of $860,000. At least with MLB, you're getting all of that money. In the NFL, you're subject to incentives or being cut and losing money on your contract.

    Aside from the money, baseball is a much safer sport, especially when it comes to head injuries. Football has become synonymous with concussions and concussion-related ailments that cause brain trauma. If Murray values his life, he should choose baseball.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.


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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-34) will continue their six-game road trip against the Houston Rockets (23-17) on Friday night.

    HOUSTON -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-34) will continue their six-game road trip against the Houston Rockets (23-17) on Friday night. 

    When: 8 p.m.

    Where: Toyota Center

    TV: FoxSports Ohio 

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs beat the Rockets 117-108 on Nov. 24. 

    Cavs minute: Cleveland has lost 11 straight games. This is the final meeting of the season against Houston. ... The Cavs will try to sweep the two-game season series from the Rockets for the third time in franchise history (1982-83 & 2001-02 seasons). ... The Cavs' last road win came more than a month ago, on Dec. 3 in Brooklyn. ... The Cavs will be without power forward Larry Nance Jr., who could be sidelined up to a month because of a sprained MCL. Nance has appeared in 39 games (17 starts) and is averaging 8.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals in 25.6 minutes -- all career highs. ... The Cavs' defense ranks last in efficiency, allowing 116.9 points per 100 possessions. ... Jordan Clarkson (4,965) is 35 points away from 5,000 for his career. ... During Wednesday's loss in New Orleans, the Cavaliers' bench scored a season-high 75 points, which tied for the fourth-most in franchise history. It was the most bench points in a single-game since Feb. 2, 2002.

    Rockets minute: Houston had its 10-game home winning streak snapped on Wednesday. ... James Harden is averaging 39.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 9.0 assists over the last 15 games. The Rockets are 12-3 during that stretch. ... Harden has scored at least 30 points in each of the past 14 games, tying for the second-longest streak dating back to 1972-73. ... Center Clint Capela is averaging 22.0 points over the last five games. ... Austin Rivers has tallied 10-plus points in seven of his eight games with Houston after doing so seven times in 29 games for Washington this season. ... Gerald Green has scored 10-plus points in each of the past five games. Since Dec. 11, Green leads all reserves with 43 made 3-pointers. ... Houston is 15-8 when Capela, Harden and Chris Paul play together this season after going 42-3 in 2017-18.

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Cedi Osman

    F Jalen Jones

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Alec Burks

    G Collin Sexton

    Rockets

    F Danuel House Jr.

    F P.J. Tucker

    C Clint Capela

    G Austin Rivers

    G James Harden


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    James Harden, last year's MVP, has continued his dominance over the league. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo has developed into a weapon of mass destruction.

    Halfway through the NBA season, two players have separated themselves from the pack as the frontrunners for the league's MVP award. James Harden, last year's MVP, has continued his dominance over the league once again, notching multiple 40+ point triple-doubles and leading the NBA in scoring. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo has developed into a weapon of mass destruction, averaging 26.6 points, 12.8 rebounds and six assists per game at the time of publication. Who should be MVP? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    NBA fans might not like consecutive MVP winners, but even they can't deny Harden hasn't been the best player in the league halfway through the season. He's put on unequaled scoring performances that have carried Houston to victory after victory. After a slow 11-14 start, the Rockets are sixth in the Western Conference at the time of publication, and it has been all Harden.

    Not only is Harden leading the league in scoring, but he is also averaging 8.6 assists and two steals per game. Harden also leads the league in value over replacement player, contributing 4.4 more points than the average player. He is becoming a more complete player and deserves the midseason MVP award.

    No one wants to see James "all-my-points-are-free-throws" Harden get the MVP again. Antetokounmpo continues to improve, but he's already one of the most dominant players in the entire league, handling the ball for the Milwaukee Bucks and averaging over 26 points and six assists per game.

    Still, his true value comes on the defensive end, where his length causes problems for anyone who dares to take him on from the perimeter or near the basket. He leads the league in defensive win shares and defensive box plus/minus at the time of publication. Harden won the MVP last season, but this is a new year for the league -- Antetokounmpo's year.

     

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    Unlike the first meeting between the two teams, a stunning win for the Cavs on Nov. 24 that looked to be a pivotal moment in the season, Houston clubbed Cleveland in the rematch.

    HOUSTON -- During a timeout in the first quarter of Friday night's game, Houston Dynamo owner and fight legend Oscar De La Hoya "boxed" Rockets mascot Clutch, dropping the bear with a nasty 1-2 combination. 

    The Rockets were De La Hoya. The Cavaliers were Clutch. An early knockout.

    Unlike the first meeting between the two teams, a stunning win for the Cavs on Nov. 24 that looked to be a pivotal moment in the season, Houston clubbed Cleveland 141-113 in the rematch.

    It's the 12th straight loss for the Cavs. They haven't won on the road in more than a month, with the last win away from The Q coming in Brooklyn on Dec. 3. 

    The Cavs trailed by 20 at the end of the first quarter. The Rockets lead exploded to 30 at halftime. The biggest lead was 44. 

    Early Friday morning, head coach Larry Drew spoke about the numerous differences in his team now and then. He mentioned the number of players missing from that first matchup. One of those guys: David Nwaba, who is still about a week away from returning after an ugly ankle sprain. 

    In the first game, Nwaba, Cleveland's feisty on-ball defender, hounded reigning MVP James Harden, forcing him to work for his numbers. That game, Harden still finished with 40 points because, well, he's perhaps the best individual scorer in the league. But it didn't come easy in November.

    Without Nwaba, the Cavs had no one capable of providing any resistance. Harden started cooking early. He finished with 43 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. 

    The Cavs tried Alec Burks. No contest. Cedi Osman had his chances following switches. Nope. Tristan Thompson was matched against him a few times and couldn't slow Harden down. Jordan Clarkson? Negative.

    A few times, the coaching staff even signaled for the nearest defender, one that wasn't playing on the ball, to sprint at Harden, forcing the ball out of his hands. Sometimes it was too late, as Harden had already stepped back for his patented 3-pointer. Other times, he wrecked the plan with one of his game-high 12 dishes.  

    Only Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni could slow him down, pulling Harden at the end of the third quarter for good.  

    Harden's dominance is not specific to Cleveland. He's shredding every opponent. He's in the midst of an historic run, scoring at least 30 points in each of the past 15 games, which ties for the second-longest streak dating back to 1972-73.

    "He's playing at a tremendous level," Drew said. "Right now, he's almost unstoppable the way he's making his shots and getting to the basket, getting to the free throw line and I know a lot of teams are throwing a lot of different things at him, but he's really playing at a high level right now and he's a terrific player. You give props where props are due."

    Still, Friday helped encapsulate the Cavs' biggest problem. They gave up a season-high 141 points. The Rockets went 20-of-52 from beyond the arc.   

    The coaches can try different things defensively. They have throughout the season. The young, inexperienced personnel leaves them answerless most nights. It's a frustrating reality that's leading to sleepless nights and plenty of film breakdown. 

    No matter how much effort the players give, there's no rim protector when everything crumbles on the perimeter. Some guys are too young to fully recognize an opponent's tendencies. And their best defender, a guy at the center of the team's best stretch of hoops this season, is sitting on the bench in street clothes. 

    It all adds up to the league's worst defense, one that has given up 281 points over the last two games. 

    "Nobody comes in expecting to lose," Drew said. "I think when you come into any building, if you bring that attitude, it's the wrong attitude. It's the NBA. Anybody can be beat on any given night. I've experienced it on both sides. We don't ever come into any building expecting to lose."

    Balanced offense

    On offense, the Cavs got numerous contributions once again. Led by Ante Zizic, who scored 18 points, Cleveland had six players reach double figures. Osman tallied 15. Sexton scored 14. Burks poured in 13. Clarkson had 12 on just 5-of-15 shooting. Even two-way player Jalen Jones hit the double-figure mark, scoring 12. 

    Up next

    Cleveland's road trip continues on Sunday, as they make their lone visit to play the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James will not play in the final meeting of the season against his old team because of a groin injury. 


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    The Cavs ignored the defensive game plan in getting blown out by the Houston Rockets -- a game in which Cleveland trailed by 44 in the second half.

    HOUSTON -- Tristan Thompson believes there's been enough time for the young Cavaliers to learn. It's January. More than half of the season has been played. It's time to bring those first-half-of-the-year lessons to the court.

    The Cavs failed to do that on Friday night, ignoring the game plan and getting blown out by the Houston Rockets -- a game in which Cleveland trailed by 44 at one point in the second half.

    "Our plan was to keep it 2-on-2 on the ball. If (James) Harden and (Clint) Capela combine for over 100 points together then we will take that on the chin," Thompson said. "But we can't let the other guys score or be effective and clearly defensively guys weren't in the right spots and their rotational guys were able to have good nights. That's when they are at their best.

    "Obviously have to give Harden a lot of credit for his scoring ability, but we can live with him scoring all the points as long as other guys are not contributing. We didn't do that tonight. Didn't do that at all."

    Harden scored 43 points on 12-of-24 from the field and 8-of-16 from 3-point range in 30 minutes. That's 15 straight for Harden with at least 30 points. He's terrorizing all opponents. Cavs head coach Larry Drew called Harden unstoppable following the game. The challenge is clearly immense.

    Still, every team has a choice to make before tipoff. The biggest no-no is letting him get everything.

    On Friday night, Harden added 12 assists and 10 rebounds, another triple-double. Forget those stats. The most irritating number to Thompson was six -- as in the amount of players who scored double figures for Houston.

    If the Cavs entered the night determined to take Harden's teammates out of the game then how did that many get going?

    "How many games has it been? At this point, we've taught everything we can teach," Thompson said. "Now it's up to the players to come out there and just do their job. Do your job. Simple. Our players didn't do their job."

    Capela scored 19. Danuel House Jr. tallied 14 on 4-of-9 from the field and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. House was averaging just 5.3 points over the previous three games.

    Austin Rivers and Brandon Knight each added 12. That's the most Knight has scored since coming back from a significant knee injury in mid-December. P.J. Tucker poured in 10 points.

    On Friday night, every member of the Rockets -- all 11 that played -- scored at least four points. The non-Hardens erupted for 98 points, as Houston scored a season-high 141.

    "He's a dynamic scorer, one of the best scorers in our league," Thompson said of Harden. "But what makes him more dangerous is when he's finding guys and getting other guys going. Rather have him score all the points and have the other guys be cold and not engaged in the game. That's what we did last time. That's what teams do. That's what Milwaukee was doing. Had some success. Guys just didn't follow along the game plan."

    Thompson admitted that David Nwaba's absence was felt. In the first meeting between the two teams on Nov. 24, Nwaba guarded Harden on 50 possessions, holding him to 4-of-15 from the field.

    But Nwaba thinks he's still about a week away from returning from his ankle injury. So on Friday, that left Alec Burks matched up against Harden most often while Thompson tried to stick with Clint Capela.

    Given Thompson's comments, ones with a level of frustration attached, that would put Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton and Rodney Hood in the crosshairs.

    Thompson, of course, didn't single anyone out after the game. He hasn't all season. Leaders don't do that in public. Behind the scenes it's a little different, a chance for him to pull guys aside and chat with them. But his remarks in his postgame session with reporters made it easy to connect the dots. So, too, did one moment at the start of the game.

    In the first quarter, Thompson chastised Osman for failing to pick up Capela in transition. It was Thompson's man, of course, but he was trailing the play so he pointed to Osman and shouted instructions at him, putting trust in one of his teammates to pick up the slack. The break ended in a Capela dunk, which then led to a Cavaliers timeout and a teaching moment. Thompson raised his palms and discussed the breakdown with Osman for most of the timeout. 

    That was just one of a handful of defensive lapses on a night the Cavaliers gave up 140 points for the second straight game. 

    "We just couldn't stop them. They were raining 3's all over the place. They were breaking us down off the dribble. Couldn't stop them," Drew said. "They're in a rhythm, playing very good basketball. We knew it coming in. Nothing surprising. Didn't do a good enough job defending the 3-point line, which was a point of emphasis prior to the game."


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    Those are the numbers. They are unavoidable. The real question is why are they so bad? What (who?) is at the root of the issue?

    HOUSTON -- The countless questions about Cleveland's ranking in the main defensive categories have been exhausted over the last couple of years. 

    The 2017-18 season seemed to be the low point. Then came this year. 

    Coaches, players, executives, they are all aware of the numbers.

    Last in opponent field goal percentage. Fifth from the bottom in opponent 3-point percentage. They are 23rd in points allowed, perhaps a shocking number considering they've given up at least 140 points in back-to-back games. Last in defensive rating, allowing 117.2 points per 100 possessions -- nearly four points worse than the also-rebuilding New York Knicks.

    Only five teams have fewer steals. No one ranks lower in blocks, as the Cavs lack any semblance of rim protection -- a key ingredient for some of the NBA's top defensive teams (Oklahoma City, Utah, Indiana, Memphis, Miami). 

    Those are the numbers. They are unavoidable. The real question is why are they so bad? What (who?) is at the root of the issue? 

    "We don't have good defenders. Period," one player told cleveland.com late Friday night.

    When asked for specific names, that same player declined to single anyone out before offering a slight hint. 

    "Watch the tape. You can see it. You can't hide them," he told cleveland.com. "Those teams will find the two of them in particular and attack, attack, attack. There are times when analytics and numbers are just numbers. This is not one of those times."

    You don't have to be a gumshoe to crack this case. 

    Cedi Osman's defensive rating is 120.2. That's the worst mark for any player in the NBA who has logged more than 200 minutes this season. With Osman on the court, the opponents' offensive rating is a whopping 125.8. Foes have an effective field goal percentage of 58.0. With Osman off the floor, the numbers drop to 114.1 and 51.8 percent respectively. 

    Then comes rookie Collin Sexton, whose defensive rating is 118.0. It's the league's second-worst mark. With him on the court, the opponent's offensive rating is 124.7 and they have an effective field goal percentage of 57.4. With him off the floor, those numbers drop to 116.3 and 53.1 percent. 

    Now, this isn't entirely on them. Both are young and inexperienced. Even members of the organization have admitted they are asking the duo to carry too much of a burden at this stage of their development. But that's been forced upon them thanks to a nasty domino effect of unpredictable circumstances.

    Not only is Osman playing more than 31 minutes per night -- a chance for the organization to get a better idea of his ceiling -- the Cavs were asking the 23-year-old swingman to defend the opponent's best player early in the season while also serving as one of the primary playmakers on offense.

    Osman, essentially a rookie, showed he wasn't ready for that much responsibility and the poor metrics probably correlate a little bit with those October assignments.

    Sexton isn't physically prepared yet. He just turned 20 and he's never had to navigate such powerful screens. He's never broken down film to this degree and had to know the level of detail involved in defending the pick and roll. 

    These are the natural growing pains of a young roster -- a group that has had very little continuity and far too many injuries. 

    How can the Cavs limit Osman's playing time when David Nwaba has missed 16 games this season, including the last seven, and Rodney Hood has been in and out of the lineup? Not to mention Kevin Love's early-season injury that has forced Osman to spend a large chunk of time as an undersized power forward. 

    The Cavs recently signed Cameron Payne to a 10-day contract to take some of the pressure off Sexton. Payne also provides an insurance policy in case Matthew Dellavedova continues to fight injuries. But before that, it was tough to tone down Sexton's workload because of a lack of available options. 

    How are the Cavs supposed to find what scheme works best when the group isn't together long enough to get those answers? How are they supposed to get into a rhythm and create an identity when there are constant changes?

    On Friday morning, head coach Larry Drew was asked a few more questions about the defense, after the Cavaliers had allowed the New Orleans Pelicans to score 140 points, including 81 in the second half. This was hours before his team gave up a new season-worst 141 to Houston.

    Do you have the personnel to be that kind of defense (a gritty one that does the little things)? 

    "I don't know. I don't know what we have right now, to be perfectly honest with you," Drew admitted. "I think what we do have we're going to continue to try to challenge these guys every game we play. Hopefully we can come up with better numbers. I'm kind of a realist when it comes to that. I take what we have and try to make it work.

    "The message to our guys is every single night we step out on the court we're going to have to leave it on the floor because defensively that's how we are built. That's the makeup of our team. We have to play a grimy game. It can't be a passive game, can't be a cute game. We have to make it ugly. In order for us to even put ourselves in a position to win games, that's just who we are and how we have to play."

    Then came another question. 

    What's realistically possible for this team on that end of the floor?

    "I'm looking for, more than anything, just the consistency," he said. "I think that happens when you do come out and play solid defense, you play with an aggression, you don't give up second rebounds, you come up with loose balls, you come up with 50-50 balls. That's the thing I'm looking for more than anything."

    The Cavs are bottom 10 in the league in deflections, averaging 12.3. They are last in loose balls recovered and contesting 2s. They are fifth-worst in overall contested shots.

    The truth is, the answers to keep from being on the wrong side of history don't exist. 

    The Cavs have used 18 starting lineups. When they switch to a zone, they give up an abundance of wide-open 3's, including a handful from the corners. Some nights they've been forced to use nine players because of the lengthy injury list. Fatigue sets in, which often results in a lack of attention to detail and poor communication.

    Drew has spoken a few times about how his short-handed squad tends to wear down. The team's best defensive player, Nwaba, can't seem to stay healthy. The roster is littered with poor defenders, which was a concern going into the season.

    Nights when the offense is sluggish, shaky and out of rhythm, certainly doesn't help either. It's all tied together. 

    Oh, and, of course, playing young guys often leads to mistakes. 

    "We are asking guys to play a lot more minutes than they are used to and I think we are asking guys to have a lot on their plate," said Channing Frye. "A lot of it is experience, injuries and just the fact that like, what is (Sexton) supposed to do with someone like Jrue Holiday, you know? Not that they are excuses, but you have to look at it like, 'Damn, we are behind the 8-ball already.'"

    This season is about growing. For Osman and Sexton in particular, the focus must shift to defense. As one player said late Friday night, there's no hiding from the film and at some point the crutches need to go away. 

    Defense is also about heart, desire and effort. Do you take it personally when your man scores? Is it painful to let teams get buckets with relative ease?

    Is that desire there with this Cavaliers group? Do players even have the ambition to climb to a respectable level?

    "No. I don't think so," one player told cleveland.com. "It's not there with some."


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    Then in his very first scrimmage, he stepped on James' foot, sending the franchise player hobbling off the court with a nasty ankle sprain.

    LOS ANGELES -- The relationship between Cedi Osman and LeBron James got off on the wrong foot. Literally.

    "The thing I remember clearly is how quiet that gym got," Cavs head coach Larry Drew recalls about Sept. 27, 2017. "Practice is going. There's all the talk, all the chatter and then that happened and it was just total silence."

    There was Osman, a rookie taking part in his first official NBA training camp. He had left Turkey and was in a new country, trying to prove that he belonged, trying to earn the respect of his new teammates that had only known him from grainy YouTube clips and a Head and Shoulders commercial.

    Then in his opening scrimmage, he stepped on James' foot, sending the franchise player hobbling off the court with a nasty ankle sprain.

    "Man, Cedi saw his life -- and his career -- flash before his eyes," Channing Frye told cleveland.com while laughing. "He was about to be on the first flight back to Istanbul."

    In a strange twist, that was James' first glimpse of the qualities he has come to appreciate. That terrifying moment actually sparked what has become a tight bond between James and Osman.

    "That was the time when I felt I started earning that respect," Osman said. "That's what he liked to see, that I'm fighting hard, that I'm working hard."

    Beyond basketball

    On Feb. 7, 2018, following weeks of tension and questions about the season slipping away, James rescued the Cavaliers once again. He punctuated his triple-double with a game-winning fade-away jumper at the buzzer that gave Cleveland renewed hope. While the Minnesota Timberwolves were left in shock, James went sprinting toward his teammates. Well, one in particular. Osman.

    The two jumped for joy and chest-bumped. It was the kind of celebration that made it seem like they had known each other for years.

    It took time to get to that point.

    Most of the early conversations weren't even about basketball. The intention was for James to learn about Osman the person. The two discussed their love of soccer. James would ask Osman about European culture. Osman would inquire about James' younger days growing up as a basketball prodigy while also facing plenty of hardships along the way.

    Eventually, road trips led to lunches and dinners. It was small group of four. James, Osman, Jeff Green and Jose Calderon.

    Osman and Calderon favor classical music. James and Green love rap.

    "Every moment we had together was amazing because every day we were on the road we were talking about something different," Osman said.

    As the season progressed, James started singling out Osman in postgame interviews, praising the rookie for his basketball IQ, work ethic, hustle and professional approach.

    "For me, every practice with him, dinner, lunch, being together was special. It was my favorite," Osman said. "I will say I was really proud when he was talking about me to the media. What he was saying about me, all that good stuff, that was really special to me."

    Exclusive summer workout

    It was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. As the clock ticked down, James launched a 3-pointer at the buzzer that dropped through the net and gave the Cavaliers a 3-2 series lead over the feisty Indiana Pacers.

    Just like his heroics a few months earlier against the Timberwolves, James rushed toward his teammates to celebrate.

    Once again, Osman was there to catch him mid-flight.

    That photo was the same one Osman used for his heartfelt Instagram post on July 2, the day after James announced his decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.

    View this post on Instagram

    Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best. And there are remarkably rare ones, who just bring out the most of everything that even you don't know that you have. They build you up. They make you feel alive. They make you feel strong. They make you feel indisputable. From the first moment we met, you've always been that rare one for me, King. I don't believe in coincidences. I choose to believe my path crossed with you for a reason. And that reason will be uncovered as I continue to walk through. Please accept my highest gratitude for your support and appreciation for your inspiration. I'm truly blessed to have been surrounded by your charm. Bazi insanlar doganizdaki kotu taraflari ortaya cikarir; bazilari ise icinizdeki iyiyi katlayarak yansitmanizi saglar. Ama bazi ozel insanlar vardir ki, onlarin sayisi cok azdir, sahip oldugunuzun farkinda bile olmadiginiz yonlerinizi parlatmanizi saglar. Sizi gelistirir, yasadiginizi hissettirir ve guclu oldugunuzu hatirlatir. Kral, ilk bulusmamizdan itibaren benim icin essiz biri oldun. Biliyorum ve inaniyorum ki seninle yolumuz ozel bir nedenle kesisti. Bu ozel neden, hayatim boyunca benimle olmaya devam edecek. Verdigin tum destek icin sana kalpten tesekkur ediyorum. Seninle gecirdigim her dakika icin minnetarim. Yolun acik olsun...

    A post shared by Cedi Osman (@cediosman) on

    "Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best," Osman wrote. "And there are remarkably rare ones, who just bring out the most of everything that even you don't know that you have. They build you up. They make you feel alive. They make you feel strong. They make you feel indisputable. From the first moment we met, you've always been that rare one for me, King.

    "I don't believe in coincidences. I choose to believe my path crossed with you for a reason. And that reason will be uncovered as I continue to walk through. Please accept my highest gratitude for your support and appreciation for your inspiration. I'm truly blessed to have been surrounded by your charm."

    Even though James was headed for LA, Osman believed the two would still stay close. During Las Vegas Summer League, they got together for dinner.

    That's when James extended an invitation to Osman, asking his former teammate if he was interested in an exclusive workout with some of the league's best small forwards.

    James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Osman.

    "What do you expect me to say? I said, 'Of course, you know, that would be perfect,'" Osman said. "First day we worked out together and then the next day he said we were going to work out with KD and Kawhi. I was like so excited and said, 'Wow, three best small forwards in the world and I'm going to have opportunity to learn from them and work out with them.'

    "That's something I will not forget ever. Because always watching them on the TV when I was a kid or playing the games with them and then one time practicing with them so it was an amazing feeling."

    View this post on Instagram

    Never stop dreaming, never stop believing, never give up, never stop trying and never stop learning!

    A post shared by Cedi Osman (@cediosman) on

    Osman remembers being a nervous wreck taking jumpers alongside those perennial MVP candidates. He can still picture himself clanking outside jumpers off the front of the rim before Durant gave him a pointer to help his form.

    In a way, it was like those early days inside Cleveland Clinic Courts, when James welcomed Osman into his post-shootaround group.

    "Cedi is an awesome human being and I think the way he plays lends itself to, like most people who are around him want him to be really, really good," Frye said. "I think Bron just took that and saw that Cedi has a fire so Bron is like, well I'm going to continue to stoke it. I think Bron and Cedi, their relationship is more like big brother, little brother. It's a great relationship for Cedi. I think it's good for Bron to have somebody that looks up to him."

    Checking in

    Osman has James' number but he doesn't want to be a bother. He usually attempts to text James once or twice every two weeks just to catch up and see how the season is going. It's their way of keeping the relationship strong despite being thousands of miles away. 

    In November, when Osman was forced to miss a pair of games with back spasms, James reached out.

    "He was asking how I was feeling and stuff like that," Osman said. "He's my favorite player in the world but having him ask how my back is and caring about me, that's something that's really special."

    When James returned to Cleveland on Nov. 21, he embraced his former teammates prior to tipoff. Then Osman got a few chances to guard James during the game, something Osman had been thinking about since James' departure in free agency.

    View this post on Instagram

    no words are necessary

    A post shared by Cedi Osman (@cediosman) on

    The Lakers got the best of the Cavs, 109-105, as James delivered yet another reminder of what Cleveland no longer has.

    After the LA win, James sipped down a banana milkshake from Swenson's and reflected on his 11 years in Cleveland. He also heaped more praise on Osman.

    "My relationship has grown even stronger with Cedi even though I've been on another coast," James said. "I've been keeping up with him throughout this season and the best thing I told him tonight, I told him, 'You finally took my advice and started wearing Nikes.'"

    So what was it about Osman -- a wide-eyed, over-eager, unpolished rookie when they first met -- that made James take him under his wing?

    "By showing up on time, every single day. Putting in the work every single day. And being a professional every single day," James said. "Cedi is one of my favorite guys that I've played with and it was only a year, but he's a sponge and you can see that he has a love of the game."

    Lasting message

    James is gone. But Osman has tried to use those lessons during a painful season.

    He has a much bigger role now, starting in his buddy's old spot. One year after averaging 11.0 minutes and starting just 12 games, Osman is getting 31.8 minutes per night and has made 40 starts.

    Back in October, he was asked to not only take the toughest defensive assignment but serve as one of the team's primary playmakers as well. Osman admits it was exhausting at times and a lot of responsibility -- probably too much.

    But he learned from James to fight through fatigue. Even on off days, James would be working. That approach helped set the culture.

    It's that same work ethic Osman has been trying to mimic in a year where his development is at the center of Cleveland's plan. 

    This season has been his chance, the one he's dreamed about. It's his opportunity to prove the Cavs right for bringing him over from Turkey and signing him last summer. His shot to show he deserves to be an NBA starter beyond this season. 

    Through 41 games, Osman is averaging 11.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He has scored double figures in 12 of the last 14 games. Despite not yet accomplishing one of his goals -- getting a triple-double -- he's flashed potential. He's also shown plenty of growing pains.

    "He's gotta be a savage," Frye said. "I think sometimes he makes the game harder than it needs to be and I think sometimes he has God-given ability to change the game in ways that not a lot of us can and I think he needs to continue to learn how to do that and be effective and efficient.

    "Cedi is a huge team guy and I think it's something you have to learn over the course of a year. Cedi has the ability to pass, shoot, drive, all these things and we have to challenge him all the time to do those things every night."

    On Sunday night, the Cavs will play the Lakers for the final time this season. James won't be in uniform, set to miss his 11th straight game because of a strained groin.

    The Cavs head into that game losers of 12 in a row. They have given up at least 140 points in back-to-back games. They own the league's worst record and have already passed last season's loss total. 

    It hasn't been easy on anyone and frustration is growing with each loss.

    During the gloomy times, James never gave in, he always kept the same approach with his teammates. Beyond everything else Osman has gained through that special connection with James, that's the lesson that has been most valuable this season.

    "He was the one that was always staying positive no matter what," Osman said. "Losing or winning, keep going harder and harder."

    Just like that first day of training camp when disaster turned into an unlikely bond that goes beyond basketball.


    0 0

    The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-35) will continue their six-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers (23-20) on Sunday night.

    LOS ANGELES -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-35) will continue their six-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers (23-20) on Sunday night. 

    When: 9:30 p.m.

    Where: Staples Center

    TV: FoxSports Ohio; NBATV

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs lost to the Lakers 109-105 on Nov. 21 in LeBron James' homecoming game. 

    Cavs minute: Cleveland has given up at least 140 points in back-to-back games. ... In six games in the new year, the Cavs have given up a whopping 128.5 points per game. ... Cleveland is 4-1 in its last five games at Staples Center. ... Jordan Clarkson (4,977) is 23 points away from 5,000 for his career. ... The Cavs have shot at least 90 percent from the free throw line 10 times this season, their most in a single season. The previous franchise record was nine in 2017-18. ... During Friday's loss against Houston, the Cavs' bench poured in 59 points, their third straight game with 50-plus points from the reserves. ... Cedi Osman has scored in double-digits in 12 of his last 14 games. ... In three games as a Cavalier, Cameron Payne is averaging 11.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 21.7 minutes.

    Lakers minute: LeBron will miss his 11th straight game because of a groin injury. ... Los Angeles is 3-7 without James this season. ... Brandon Ingram has scored in double figures in 30 of 32 games this season, including eight 20-point performances. ... JaVale McGee ranks fourth in the league in blocks. ... Josh Hart has hit at least two 3-point field goals in 22 games this season. ... Kyle Kuzma scored a career-high 41 points in 29 minutes on Wednesday vs. Detroit, the highest point total by a Lakers player to appear in fewer than 30 minutes in the NBA's shot clock era -- since 1954-55.

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Rodney Hood

    F Cedi Osman

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Alec Burks

    G Collin Sexton

    Lakers

    F Kyle Kuzma

    F Brandon Ingram

    C JaVale McGee

    G Josh Hart

    G Lonzo Ball


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